Celebrating marriage

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Well, to be technical, we’re not celebrating “marriage as an institution”; we’re celebrating OUR marriage of 45 years.

At any rate, a couple of years ago Chris told me she wanted to go back to Maui for our 45th anniversary, so we’re flying out of O’Hare this morning, bound for our favorite of the Hawaiian islands, even though we haven’t been there in 10 years or so.

I’m confident that CLC is in good hands while we’re away, so I plan to disconnect from the internet, email, and even this blog for the next 7 days, so I can focus on the beautiful blonde who has stood by my side through all the ups and downs of life since December 16, 1972.

We’ll see you on December 10 (if you’re part of the CLC-Tinley Park family) for a great Sunday with Potter’s Field.  Meanwhile, the picture above is what I’ll be viewing this evening and for the next several evenings, if she’ll keep her hands off me long enough….

Meanwhile, invite a friend for December 10:

Potter’s Field Touring Promo from Potter’s Field Ministries on Vimeo.

 

a modern Potter on stage – helping put marriages back together!

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December 10 could be the highlight of the year at CLC-Tinley Park!

Not only is the message presentation that day in all 3 services unlike anything we’ve ever done in CLC history, but Potter’s Field Ministry regularly sees hundreds of people respond to the Gospel AND has seen hundreds of marriages healed and restored!

I’ve been looking forward to this Sunday for over a year, since we first scheduled Michael & Pam Rozell as our guests.  Take a look at this 3-minute video and invite your unchurched friends or those with troubled marriages to be your guest – it could change their life forever!

Potter’s Field Touring Promo from Potter’s Field Ministries on Vimeo.

Siberia, day 2

The man in the center is Stanislav, from Krakow, Poland. He is a metallurgist whose company sends him to Novokuznetsk each year because of the steel industry here.

The man in the center is Stanislav, from Krakow, Poland. He is a metallurgist whose company sends him to Novokuznetsk each year because of the steel industry here.

His visit this year coincided with our visit for this Family Conference, and he told me in between sessions that his marriage of 40 years is having difficulties now that he and his wife are empty nesters.  Pastor Janet Bantseev and I prayed for him and when I opened my eyes, big tears were streaming down his cheeks.  Thank God for His providential timing!

Chris and I completed about 8 hours of teaching on the marriage relationship today, with the help of our interpreter, Aksana.

Chris and I completed about 8 hours of teaching on the marriage relationship today, with the help of our interpreter, Aksana.

Then tonight I preached the first of their four weekend services:

This lady sang a beautiful solo of "It Is Well with my Soul" (in Russian, of course)

This lady sang a beautiful solo of “It Is Well with my Soul” (in Russian, of course)

As seems to be the custom here, many people came forward for prayer tonight-

As seems to be the custom here, many people came forward for prayer tonight-

I’m not sure if it’s jetlag or just exhaustion from teaching for six hours and preaching for another hour tonight, but either way, it’s time to hit the sack for some SLEEP!

Can’t wait to hear about the Watoto Choir at CLC tomorrow – if you’re reading this, shoot me a Facebook message or email or even a comment below as to how you enjoy them on Sunday-

44 years to celebrate!

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I may not be able to publish my usual “Sunday reflections” post today, because Chris and I had to move up our travel plans by one day to escape Chicago’s winter storm, and we headed to the airport immediately after the noon service.

Since my birthday (which I’m not celebrating) and our wedding anniversary both fall the week before Christmas, we always try to get someplace warm to celebrate. This year it’s a short Caribbean cruise, so I’m checking out for the next 5 days – no posts here, no Facebook, no Twitter – just me and my honey!

We’ve got a lot of celebrating to do – she’s the woman of my dreams, and God has been so good to us!

See you next Sunday for Jingle Jam!

What are you waiting for?

Family Matters GROUPS have already started!

Family Matters GROUPS have already started!

If you live in Chicagoland and haven’t yet joined one of our 150+ small groups who will meet for the next 6 weeks in homes, workplaces and coffee shops all over this area in order to grow closer to God and each other, what are you waiting for?

Go to our website now and choose the city you prefer or the day of the week you prefer and see which group fits you best.  It’s NOT too late, but you don’t want to miss the opening week, so get started NOW!

You won’t regret it!

Happy birthday to my “BETTER HALF”

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I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “my better half”, probably when some man is introducing his wife to you.  But today I was curious as to where the expression originated, and I thought you might enjoy learning, too:

  • One theory suggests that the origin of this is in an ancient Middle Eastern legend. When a Bedouin man had been sentenced to death, his wife pleaded with the tribal leader that because they were married, she and her husband had become one, and that to punish one-half of the union would also punish the half who was innocent. The court agreed and the man’s life was saved by his “better half.”
  • This term wasn’t originally restricted to referring only to one’s spouse as we use it now, but to one’s dearest friend. The Roman poet Horace (65 BC-8 BC) and later Statius (45-96 AD) used it in this meaning. In this case the reference is to a friend so dear that he/she was more than half of a person’s being and the person believed that life without the better half would be meaningless or extremely difficult and lonely.

Interesting.  And while I can’t say that Chris literally ‘saved’ my life, I certainly can say without hesitation that she is more than half of my being and without her, my life would be oh, so difficult (y’all don’t know how she babies me!) and oh, so lonely.  (I would even say ‘meaningless’, but Jesus is the One who gives my life meaning; Chris is number Two!)

I’m a better person because of her.  She makes me more compassionate, because I’ve never known anyone more caring for others than Chris.  She keeps me honest, because she has such a strong sense of right and wrong.  She has taught me the priority of family, when I would otherwise have been focused on my own little world of ministry, even to the neglect of my children.  She ‘spices up’ my life, through her creativity and passion, when I would otherwise be stuck in a bland routine.  She inspires me to hear God’s voice, because of her own sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  I can’t imagine life without her.

So today, we’re celebrating this beautiful blonde who came into my life over 44 years ago, on this day, the 23rd anniversary of her 39th birthday!  Would you join me in saying, ‘Happy birthday, Chris’ to my BETTER HALF!

Laugh & Learn: marriage

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If you’re married and living in the USA, you don’t need me to tell you that the institution of marriage is under attack these days.

Between the rejection of Biblical teachings, internet porn, cyber-relationships via Facebook  and the depressing stats about cohabitation before marriage and the divorce rates we’ve all heard so many times, this is not the world our parents grew up in – and when you add to that our own human nature,  it’s a challenge to build a marriage that lasts these days.

That’s why I’m SO excited about our “Laugh & Learn” marriage event on Saturday, August 6 from 4-6pm with family expert, Joe McGee!

In my four decades of marriage and ministry, I’ve never heard anyone as helpful as Joe when it comes to relationships.  No one.

If you are engaged or married, I’m urging you to attend this seminar on August 6.  Better yet, why not make it a date night, by going to Starbucks or your favorite restaurant afterwards and talk about how to apply what you heard from Joe.  It’ll pay big dividends!

Take a look at this sample:

Plan your date night for Saturday, August 6 at 4pm – let’s Laugh & Learn!

 

Off to Orange County

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Chris and I board a flight to southern California this morning for what may be the most ambitious project we’ve ever tackled at CLC.:

  • Some of you will recall our first-ever All-Church campaign back in 2003 when we challenged our whole church family to read the  “Purpose Driven Life” by Pastor Rick Warren, hear a message on that topic each Sunday, and meet together in homes with other CLC’ers to discuss what they were learning on that topic.
  • Then last Fall we used Pastor Steven Furtick’s book, “Crash the Chatterbox” in much the same way – read, hear a message, discuss in small groups.

Over those years, we have been challenged and encouraged by Brett Eastman and his team at LifeTogether to do an All-Church campaign in-house, meaning the writings and messages and video discussion starters would come from Chris and me.  Their rationale is that CLC’ers are much more likely to respond to their own pastors than anyone else, including Christian ‘celebrities’.  And if you explore their website, you’ll see they’ve got plenty of experience with churches around the country to back up their claims.

We considered it numerous times, but never pulled the trigger until several weeks ago when Brett ‘made us an offer we couldn’t refuse’ and then sweetened it even further by telling us it would be much less expensive for us to come to them rather than sending their whole team to film us in Chicago.

So we’re flying out today, filming all day tomorrow, and returning home on Wednesday.  In a few weeks, you’ll hear more details as we launch an All-Church campaign that we expect will result in significantly more Life Groups at each campus than ever before – not because we’re just counting numbers – but because that means more CLC’ers connecting with each other for mutual encouragement and accountability and outreach with friends and neighbors!

Stay tuned.

Croatia, final day

Today was our last day of ministry on this visit to Croatia (we failed to take pics of the seminar last night, so I didn’t post):

We enjoyed the Bosnian restaurant SO much on Sunday that we asked to return there today for our final meal in Croatia

We enjoyed the Bosnian restaurant SO much on Sunday that we asked to return there today for our final meal in Croatia

We have THOROUGHLY enjoyed the fellowship with Pastors Damir & Maria Alic this week - great conversations that I believe have been helpful to the work here.

We have THOROUGHLY enjoyed the fellowship with Pastors Damir & Maria Alic this week – great conversations that I believe have been helpful to the work here.

Tonight we taught a marriage 'mate-enance' seminar to an enthusiastic response, and then led the couples in renewing their marriage vows.  Pastors Damir & Maria were on the front row leading the way!

Tonight we taught a marriage ‘mate-enance’ seminar to an enthusiastic response, and then led the couples in renewing their marriage vows. Pastors Damir & Maria were on the front row leading the way!

Now we’ll grab a few hours of shut-eye before getting up early to catch the first of 2 flights (Zagreb-Frankfurt; Frankfurt-Chicago) that will get us home about 3:30pm Thursday.  Thanks again for the prayers; looking forward to a great Sunday at CLC with “My 2 Cents”

Croatia, Marriage seminar on day 2

Just got back to our hotel and must tell you that tonight was wonderful!

Word of Life Christian Center operates their own Bible College, so Pastor Damir asked that we teach a marriage seminar to their students & invited the church members to attend as well.  Opening worship felt like a Sunday service!

Word of Life Christian Center operates their own Bible College, so Pastor Damir asked that we teach a marriage seminar to their students & invited the church members to attend as well. Opening worship felt like a Sunday service!

We taught for over 2 hours and the Young Adult pastor faithfully interpreted it all.

We taught for over 2 hours and the Young Adult pastor faithfully interpreted it all.                  (“Rijec Zivota” is Croatian for “Word of Life”)

As soon as we finished teaching & closed in prayer, this couple rushed to us, both of them weeping, to ask that we pray for their marriage.  They are both Romanian ballet dancers, but have lived in Croatia for many years.  It was amazing to see their hearts so touched by the Holy Spirit tonight!

As soon as we finished teaching and closed in prayer, this couple rushed to us, both of them openly weeping, to ask that we pray for their marriage. They are both Romanian ballet dancers, but have lived in Croatia for many years.   When we told them they could renew their wedding vows on Wednesday night, they began to weep again!  Responses like theirs make us want to keep doing what we do, despite the rigors of international travel!

 

 

Romania, day 4

Our last day in Romania was the ‘icing on the cake’:

After breakfast, we team-taught a message to the pastors about balancing ministry and family.  Here Chris is teaching with our host, Pastor Mihai Dumitrascu interpreting.

After breakfast, we team-taught a message to the pastors about balancing ministry and family. Here Chris is teaching with our host, Pastor Mihai Dumitrascu, interpreting.

After our teaching, we led the pastors in renewing their marriage vows to each other.  Pastors Mihai & Neli were first to sign their renewal certificate.

After our teaching, we led the pastors in renewing their marriage vows to each other. Pastors Mihai & Neli were first to sign their renewal certificate.

These precious Romanian pastors, who serve in very harsh & difficult conditions, absolutely LOVED having a certificate of their vow renewal.

These precious Romanian pastors, who serve in very harsh & difficult conditions, absolutely LOVED having a certificate of their vow renewal.

We've done vow renewals in several countries, but I've never seen a group so PROUD of their renewal certificate as the Romanian pastors!  (Couple on the right are missionaries here from Scotland)

In fact, we’ve done vow renewals in several countries, but I’ve never seen a group so PROUD of their renewal certificate as the Romanian pastors! (Couple on the right are missionaries here from Scotland)

After seeing such JOY on their faces, we decided to join the fun, and Pastors Mihai & Neli signed as our witnesses.

After seeing such JOY on their faces, we decided to join the fun, and Pastors Mihai & Neli signed as our witnesses.

We’re now back in Bucharest Airport and while Croatia is a neighboring country, there are no direct flights, so we’ll fly to Munich, Germany early this evening and catch another flight to Zagreb, Croatia, which is scheduled to arrive late tonight – it’ll probably be midnight by the time we reach our hotel.  We’ll minister for long-time friend, Pastor Sicko Alic at the Word of Life Church in Zagreb (largest Spirit-filled church in the country) from Sunday thru Wednesday before heading home.  Thanks for your prayers!

Romania, day 3

Today was a great day with the pastors retreat here in Romania – so many of them told us afterward how relevant the teaching was for them, which is always our biggest concern on any international assignment.  Enjoy the pics:

Chris wanted you to know that I was teaching, too - so here's a shot of me from this morning

Chris wanted you to know that I was teaching, too – so here’s a shot of me from this morning

We've been amazed at how many of the pastors speak English, so we really have been able to have fellowship between sessions, engage in conversation, etc. - much different than many trips where perhaps only our host can converse with us!

We’ve been amazed at how many of the pastors speak English, so we really have been able to have fellowship between sessions, engage in conversation, etc. – much different than many trips where perhaps only our host can converse with us!

During our break this afternoon, Pastor Mihai drove us to a nearby tourist area with a ski lift.  We took a cable car to the top, about 5,000 ft above sea level!  Beautiful views!

During our break this afternoon, Pastor Mihai drove us to a nearby tourist area with a ski lift. We took a cable car to the top, about 5,000 ft above sea level! Beautiful views!

Of course, my favorite view is always of Chris (especially with Valentine's Day right around the corner)

Of course, my favorite view is always of Chris (especially with Valentine’s Day right around the corner)

Like I said, beautiful views all the way up the mountain!

Like I said, beautiful views all the way up the mountain!

Romania, day 2

The retreat setting here could not be more gorgeous!  And the weather is unseasonably warm - instead of frigid temps & snow, it's been in the 40's or 50's here!

The retreat setting here could not be more gorgeous! And the weather is unseasonably warm – instead of frigid temps & snow, it’s been in the 40’s or 50’s here this week!

Chris & I had a few hours team-teaching the pastors here from SE Romania.

Chris & I had a few hours team-teaching the pastors here from SE Romania.

Here Chris was teaching with our host and long-time friend, Mihai Dumitrascu interpreting into Romanian.

Here Chris was teaching with our host and long-time friend, Mihai Dumitrascu interpreting into Romanian.

Later today we had divided sessions for men & women, and about 30 pastors had me on the 'hot seat' with some difficult questions about marriage & leading their churches.  (Glad I survived that session!)

Later today we had divided sessions for men & women, and about 30 pastors had me on the ‘hot seat’ with some difficult questions about marriage & leading their churches. (Glad I survived that session!)

Our ministry day is done, so it's time to rest & prepare for another full day of teaching tomorrow.  (One of the great surprises since we were here in 2003 is the number of pastors who speak English - on that visit it was only 2; this time there must be a dozen or more - so the fellowship around the table is much more enjoyable!)

Our ministry day is done, so it’s time to rest & prepare for another full day of teaching tomorrow. (One of the great surprises since we were here in 2003 is the number of pastors who speak English – on that visit it was only 2; this time there must be a dozen or more – so the fellowship around the table is much more enjoyable!)

Leaving on a jet plane…..

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About six weeks ago, on December 14, Chris and I were scheduled to to leave for Cancun celebrate my 63rd birthday and our 43rd wedding anniversary at a resort there.  But on December 13, I went down with a back injury and couldn’t get out of bed for 3 weeks.

That getaway was prepaid, and the only date we could reschedule without losing out was this week, so we’re headed to Cancun this morning to enjoy some sunshine and each other and return Friday in time for the CLC marriage retreat.  I think it’s gonna be just what the doctor ordered after fighting colds and losing Pedro last week-

So, I’m signing off until the weekend – see you at the Retreat or on Sunday when we kick-off the February series, “My 2 Cents” 

Final installment of “Mate-enance” for your marriage

For those who asked, here’s last Sunday’s message:

Mate-enance pt 2 from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

I was thrilled to meet several guests Sunday who came because a friend or family member had specifically invited them for this series – so feel free to share this video with anyone you know who needs some help in their marriage (which is probably everyone you know!)

 

More MARRIAGE Mate-tenance!

Those who know me know that I’m not into self-promotion, but after this past Sunday several CLC’ers have asked about more marriage teachings, so one of our pastors suggested that I do this:

Marriage Myths from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

10 Habits of Happy Couples from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Rules of Engagement Pt. 1 – Singles from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Rules of Engagement Pt. 2 – Family from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Rules of Engagement Pt. 3 – Family from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

We’ve done a lot more thru the years, but this is all I found on Vimeo – and it should be enough to scratch your itch for a few hours.

Don’t forget to invite a friend to join us THIS Sunday for part 2 of ‘Mate-tenance’!  (we think it’s going to be even more helpful than last week!!)

 

Announcing MATE-TENANCE Marriage Retreat!

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I’ve continued to hear great feedback from CLC’ers about last Sunday’s message, and I’m really excited to announce our 2016 CLC ‘Mate-tenance’ Marriage Retreat coming on February 5-6!

When we talked about scheduled maintenance last Sunday we mentioned specifically the need for a daily ‘FaceTime’ and a weekly ‘Date Night’, but there’s one more important  mate-tenance item, and that’s an occasional ‘getaway’ for the two of you to have time together without the kids or work interfering. And even better than that is to have the opportunity to receive godly principles & encouragement from fellow believers who are striving to build strong marriages as well!

The location of the 2016 gathering is really a reTREAT, as we’ll meet together at the amazing Drake Hotel of Oak Brook.  I can’t even describe the elegance of this historic property which has recently been restored to its original glory, but I promise that you will love the surroundings for this romantic getaway.

Save the date! (And save some money – we’ll have full details soon, but our goal is to keep the cost of the entire retreat under $200/couple).  

If you weren’t at CLC last Sunday, here’s the message:

Mate-enance Week 1 from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Mate-tenance series

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Yesterday was probably more fun than a pastor should be allowed to have in church!

But I’ve been thinking today about the series and the responses that we had from CLC’ers yesterday.  My first (and biggest) conclusion is that two weeks is not long enough for this topic!  In fact, I promise that we will tackle another series in 2016 for both marriage and parenting, which is another hot topic where we all need God’s help.

Finally, although we didn’t mention this yesterday, Genesis 2:24-25 actually contains four ‘laws’ for marriage as God intended it:

1.  The law of priority – a man leaves his father and mother.

2.  The law of pursuit – and shall cleave (“pursue with all energy”) his wife.

3.  The law of possession – they shall become one.

4.  The law of purity – they were naked and were not ashamed.

Yesterday was about the first 2 laws and this coming Sunday will be about the last 2 laws.  (I think it will be even more helpful than yesterday)

Would you be willing to invite someone that you know could use some help with their marriage?

Seriously – call them on the phone; have a personal conversation, shoot them an email  TODAY – let’s work together to help people have the marriage God always intended!

And, while you’re here, leave a comment below as to what you found helpful yesterday-

Valentine’s Day, Filipino-style

Our only assignment on Saturday was to speak at the CLC-Davao Valentine’s Banquet – me to the singles and Chris to the married couples.  They really went all out, transforming their new auditorium into a beautiful banquet hall for the occasion:

Even the entrance into the room let us know that this would be a special evening!

Even the entrance into the room let us know that this would be a special evening!

SO glad the Lord brought Pastor Herley Montes into my life - love this man of God!

SO glad the Lord brought Pastor Herley Montes into my life – love this man of God!

But of course, the most important person at the banquet was MY Valentine for the past 43 years!  She did such an amazing job teaching marrieds "How to Bring out the Best in your Mate"

But of course, the most important person at the banquet was MY Valentine for the past 43 years! She did such an amazing job teaching marrieds “How to Bring out the Best in your Mate”

Today is our final day of ministry for this trip, as we’ll preach in two different CLC churches in the morning, and then come together for an afternoon service to dedicate the new building for CLC-Davao!

 

 

A wedding in the Philippines….

Filipinos know how to put on a wedding!

At least that’s been our experience the past two years, as I had the privilege of officiating at the wedding of Pastors Herley & Nelly Montes son, Brian, last year and their son, Nathan, tonight.

Brian & Clarice had a fairy tale wedding at a picturesque setting overlooking the ocean, while Nathan & June Ann opted for a modern classic approach at a Convention Center inside Davao’s largest shopping mall – and it was spectacular with a red and black Valentine-inspired theme.

It was 31 hours from the time we left CLC on Sunday until we reached our hotel in Davao this morning, and then another 12 hours until now, and we’ve had very little sleep, so I’m signing off, but not before letting you enjoy a few pics from tonight:

Oh well, a smile always helps make up for a lack of sleep

Oh well, a smile always helps make up for a lack of sleep!

While taking a taxi to the Mall for the wedding, Chris asked me how we'd know where to go....I guess she didn't need to worry!

While taking a taxi to the Mall for the wedding, Chris asked me how we’d know where to go….I guess she didn’t need to worry!

The happy couple immediately following the ceremony-

The happy couple immediately following the ceremony-

The first dance was beautiful, and the Philippine custom is for guests to pin money on their wedding outfits to wish them prosperity in their marriage.

The first dance was beautiful, and the Philippine custom is for guests to pin money on them while they dance to wish them prosperity in their marriage. (We snapped this pic before the money march began)

 

 

 

 

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015!

In case you didn’t see the 2014 in Review video that we showed yesterday, take a look:

CLC.tv – Year in Review 2014 from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

More importantly, we’re moving strong into 2015 with intentionality:

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This Sunday (Jan. 11) I’ll be sharing a dozen of the Bible verses I discovered about our bodies, to help us ‘get fit’ physically.

Jan. 18 and 25 we’ll focus on getting fit spiritually.  February 1 and 8 we’ll offer practical help to get fit financially.  February 15 and 22 will close the series with a look at getting fit relationally.

You can register for a Life Group that corresponds with your ‘get fit’ area here.

  • During our 10-days of Prayer & Fasting (January 5-14) both Wednesday evenings at 7pm at each campus will feature powerful Prayer & Worship Encounters!

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42 years is a long time

December 16, 1972.  42 years ago today.  That’s a long time.

It’s definitely enough time to get to know someone, especially when you’re around them for almost all of those 15,340 days.

For sure, it’s long enough for me to know that Chris Ann Hansen McQuay is the real deal.

Many of you know her as a Communicator.  Maybe you’ve heard her at a retreat, or a conference, or, for many of you, from the pulpit at CLC.

Some of you respect her as a Prophetess, and rightly so, because the word of the Lord definitely flows from her mouth under the Spirit’s prompting.

Many people have seen her through the years as a Teacher – from Sunday School classes in Michigan and Missouri, Youth Camps in the same two states, a Bible college in the Philippines, or more recently, at EQUIP seminars in Turkey and Russia and Cambodia.

Others of us have seen her in smaller settings as an Intercessor, where her prayers obviously touched the throne of God.

But very few of us have been privileged to see that she’s the same woman of God, no matter where she is.  I wish you could have seen the smiles on the faces of little children in rural India, far from any convention center or massive auditorium, as she focused on them like they were the most important people in the world.

Or the numerous times I’ve watched the faces of impoverished women in Majority World settings, ‘light up’ as she greeted them with the same loving embrace and kiss that you would think was reserved for her closest friends.

In the last 42 years, I’ve seen her minister to the few, and I’ve seen her minister to the thousands.  And frankly, I can’t tell the difference, because Chris loves God, and she loves His people – wherever, whoever, however.

I’ve never met anyone else quite like her.

She’s a ferocious mother to our three children, and the funnest (is that a word?) nonny that any grandchild could possibly have.

I didn’t know what I was getting into 42 years ago, when I vowed to be with her for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.

But today I know that she is still the woman of my dreams – the one who takes my breath away – the one who lights up my world – the one person I’d most like to spend a day with. She’s not the young teenager I married – but then, I’m not the young preacher from Arkansas that she said “I do” to, either, because she’s rubbed off on me (thank God!), and I’m a much better man for having lived with her these 42 years.

Happy Anniversary, Chris – I look forward to another 42 years with you!

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Still bursting ‘Marriage Myths’

I’m still hearing from folks who were helped on Sunday when we ‘popped’ some common myths about marriage, with the biggest impact coming when Brian & Charamaine McKnight shared their story that demonstrates there is HOPE even after infidelity!

If you didn’t see the video on Sunday, or you want to view it again, here it is.

McKnight Testimony Short Version from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Of course, we’re limited on Sunday mornings because of time constraints, so our Media team was kind enough to put together a fuller version of their testimony, and you can now view it here.

McKnight Testimony Full Version from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

We serve a God of HOPE!

The bottom line about Ray Rice & domestic violence

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Since you’re reading this post via the internet, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen the video of the Baltimore Ravens running back punching his then-fiance-now-wife in the face, knocking her unconscious in an Atlantic City hotel elevator.  And even if you haven’t seen the video, you must have heard the hubbub on every radio & TV sports program, after the Ravens released him yesterday and the NFL extended his suspension.

It’s in the news because of his celebrity status as a star NFL player, but domestic violence is an ugly reality in this country that affects an estimated 1.3 million women a year! Frankly, I’ve been shocked by the number of callers to my favorite sports talk stations who are  upset by the NFL’s actions against Rice, feeling he had already been punished and that yesterday’s actions were excessive.  WHAT? (in my best high-pitched incredulous voice)

Here’s the bottom-line for me, regardless of other factors (whether she spit in his face, whether he was intoxicated, etc, etc, etc) – Ephesians 5:25 which reads: “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her”.  

And if the fact they weren’t married when he punched her out, try this one: 1Timothy 5:2, which says, “Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.”

It’s time the Church speaks out against domestic violence.  There is NEVER a reason for any man to physically harm any woman. Period. That’s the bottom line.

But this Sunday we will focus on how marriage can be, as we bust some common  ‘marriage myths’.  I hope you’ll invite a friend or family member & join us for a great FRAMILY Sunday at every Chicagoland CLC campus!

 

Have you heard?

myth

Have you heard that “Having children will make a married couple closer & increase their happiness”?

Or that “The purpose of marriage is happiness”?

How ’bout, “Sex is not really that important for a happy marriage”?

People sometime believe stuff that just isn’t true. The problem is, what we believe usually determines our behavior.  My wife & I want to expose some marriage myths once-and-for-all, this Sunday, September 14, in part 2 of our “Marital Tune-Up” series.

We’ll look at some of the things that you have may heard about marriage (whether married or single) including the 3 statements above and several more.

We’re also planning something we’ve never done at CLC & I promise you won’t forget it!

So make plans to join us to ‘get the facts’ and, while you’re at it, bring a friend or family member for FRAMILY Sunday!

I can’t wait!

 

could you use a ‘marital tune-up’?

marital tuneup

That’s what we’re offering at CLC these next 2 Sundays, as my wife and I look at some  habits of healthy, happy couples this Sunday, September 7, and then ‘pop’ some marriage myths on our FRamily Sunday, September 14.

We’ve been working on both messages for the last week, and I’m getting excited – it seems that marriage is one of those subjects that scratches us where we itch, and I’ve got a feeling YOU have some married, soon-to-be-married, about-to-be-no-longer-married or really-want-to-be-married friends who will benefit from these teachings!

AND, I know that even good marriages can use a tune-up from time to time, so INVITE even your married friends who seem to have it all together!

tune-it-up

So take a moment this week and INVITE them to be your guest for the next 2 Sundays at the CLC campus nearest you!

The BIG 6-0!

Today is a very special day in our family, because 60 years ago on this very date, a beautiful baby girl was born to James & Eleanor Hansen in Detroit, Michigan.  She was a real cutie in those early years, and God watched over her development until He brought her into my life when she was just a senior in high school.

I’ll never forget seeing her the first time, or how quickly I knew she was ‘the One’ God had chosen just for me.  And it’s been quite a privilege to share life with her for these past 42 years, seeing her grow from that shy teenager who hesitated to drive to the corner store into a powerful woman of God who has traveled to the Nations in following God’s call.

Those who’ve only known her in different slices of life, such as the early years as a youth pastor, or the young pastor’s wife who led children’s ministry and who struggled to provide music for that tiny congregation in Mt. Morris, MI, or that brief stint as a Bible College instructor & choir director in the Philippines, or the fledgling prophetess in Dexter, MO or the determined church planter who wore all those hats & more at the beginning of CLC, or even the anointed communicator who has inspired & challenged people all over the world – don’t know the full picture like I do.  She has reinvented herself so many times through the years that I’ve lost count, because, to Chris, it’s always been “whatever it takes”! 

Why? For the same reason I was attracted to her back in 1972 (it didn’t hurt that she was easy on the eyes, too) – Chris has always had a heart for God and His people and that’s never changed.  She’s the real deal, and I am one blessed man to be able to spend my life with her at my side: my partner in ministry, the mother of my children, my confidant, my lover, my best friend!

Welcome to the 60’s, babe – the best is yet to come!

babyChris

this is my FAV pic!

this is my FAV pic!

 

she LOVED the cows on her uncle's farm

she LOVED the cows on her uncle’s farm

such a young mother

such a young mother

a ferocious mother of her children

a ferocious mother of her children

The Philippines is always her favorite place to be

The Philippines is always her favorite place to be

but she's become a world traveler

but she’s become a world traveler

and she's always ready for an adventure!

and she’s always ready for an adventure!

she's always been a mama's girl...

she’s always been a mama’s girl…

 

 

 

 

...and a loving daughter

…and a loving daughter

none of this "in-law" business for her; she's a mother-in-LOVE!

none of this “in-law” business for her; she’s a mother-in-LOVE!

and a Nonny of 2 (so far!)

and a Nonny of 2 (so far!)

because her FAMILY is her passion

because her FAMILY is her passion

she loves to relax in the mountains almost as much as she loves Pedro

she loves to relax in the mountains almost as much as she loves Pedro

but the FIRE comes when she preaches!

but the FIRE comes when she preaches!

she can rock a hat!

she can rock a hat!

or "let her hair down" to those who know her best

or “let her hair down” to those who know her best

but she'll always be one CLASSY lady!

but she’ll always be one CLASSY lady!

Happy birthday, Chris!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippines Marriage Encounter

Amazing what a little sleep will do for you!  Feeling much refreshed now & thought I’d share a few more pics from the wonderful Marriage Retreat (Encounter) for the Pastors, starting with this one:

"Thx 4 pastor jerry and pastora chris 4 refreshing, Renew and restore every couple attending marriage encounter!" -- Rizalito Relloso

“Thx 4 pastor jerry and pastora chris 4 refreshing, Renew and restore every couple attending marriage encounter!” — Rizalito Relloso

It is with great honor for sharing your life to us and for initiating the renewal of our love. Thanks to you Pastor Jerry and Mommy Chris Mcquay! "Xoxo  #marriageencounter #refreshed #restored #renewed — with Chris McQuay, Jerry McQuay and Mark Anthony Sebandal at Eden Nature Park & Resort.

It is with great honor for sharing your life to us and for initiating the renewal of our love. Thanks to you Pastor Jerry and Mommy Chris Mcquay! “Xoxo
#marriageencounter #refreshed #restored #renewed — with Chris McQuay, Jerry McQuay and Mark Anthony Sebandal at Eden Nature Park & Resort.

Pastors Blair & Che Cuares serve as pastoral advisors to boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao

Pastors Blair & Che Cuares serve as pastoral advisors to boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao

 

We closed the retreat by leading each couple in renewing their vows to each other

We closed the retreat by leading each couple in renewing their vows to each other

Our friends, Jeser & Aying with baby JAM

Our friends, Jeser & Aying with baby JAM

After the retreat, we were able to tour the Eden Nature Resort - SO beautiful!

After the retreat, we were able to tour the Eden Nature Resort – SO beautiful!

LOL - a monument to he Philippine 'tractor', the caribao (water buffalo)

LOL – a monument to he Philippine ‘tractor’, the caribao (water buffalo)

The resort included a traditional Filipino house in the mountain areas

The resort included a traditional Filipino house in the mountain areas

those were some TALL sunflowers!

those were some TALL sunflowers!

 

a great way to end a Marriage Retreat!

a great way to end a Marriage Retreat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippines, days 4 and 5

Just got back to our hotel in Davao and WiFi again, after a terrific Marriage Retreat with 94 pastors & church leaders at Eden Nature Park Resort.  To be honest, we’re both so tired we’re headed to bed by 8pm here, but I just wanted to quickly report that this was one of the most gratifying ministry experiences we’ve EVER had.

It was obvious that these precious Filipino pastors had rarely been able to get away with their spouse and receive teaching from Scripture about the priority of their marriage relationship.  They soaked up every moment of our teaching….laughed at every joke and embarrassing moment (talking about sex isn’t easy in Filipino culture)….took every discussion assignment my wife had prepared in advance and basically just ‘owned’ this retreat.  Here are just a few pics since I’m fading too fast to elaborate further:

The grounds at Eden are absolutely gorgeous!

The grounds at Eden are absolutely gorgeous!

A few of the pastors & leaders as the retreat began

A few of the pastors & leaders as the retreat began

 

These pastors devoured everything we shared!

These pastors devoured everything we shared!

Pastors Herley & Nelly assembled this group of pastors from their network of ministers & Herley interpreted the sessions for us

Pastors Herley & Nelly assembled this group of pastors from their network of ministers & Herley interpreted the sessions for us

Teaching others about marriage always strengthens our relationship, too!

Teaching others about marriage always strengthens our relationship, too!

 

 

 

Ask the Pastor

Last week’s post about spouses who do not share our faith brought an interesting question from an anonymous reader: “What do I do if husband and children want to worship here but I don’t? Is it so bad for me to feel this way?”

So glad you asked, because I’m sure you’re not alone as a spouse who doesn’t want to attend the church that your family enjoys.  Here’s my best advice:

  • It is definitely NOT wrong for you to feel that you don’t want to worship at CLC.  After all, it’s a free country and each of us has the right to choose where and how we want to attend church. God has created each of us with a ‘free will’ to choose for ourselves.
  •  However, IF you are a Christ-follower, (I say that because not everyone who goes to church on Sunday is truly submitted to the Lordship of Christ.  Many Americans have confessed Him as Savior, but do not follow Him as Lord in their daily lives!) I would point out a few things for you to consider:

1.  Psalm 92:13 indicates that God wants us to be “planted” in the house of the Lord – which implies putting down roots so that we can grow, rather than just moving from one church to another. And 1Cor. 12:12, 18 makes it clear that GOD is actually the One who chooses where to place us.  So I think the real question for you is NOT where do you want to go to church for worship, but where does GOD want you to be planted?

2.  Since God loves unity and you & your husband are to be “one” (Gen. 2:24), I would encourage the two of you to seek the Lord about the answer to that question – where does HE want you to be planted?  (While it’s ok to consider where your children will best learn & grow, the decision really is up to you & your husband – as the parents, it’s your job to lead your children (read Gen. 18:19, Psa. 127:3-4Prov. 22:6, Mal. 2:15), so you should make this decision).

3. I have learned from experience with others that it is NOT healthy for you to attend one church while your family attends another.  So I would encourage you to consider that in your decision, and do your best to get on the same page as a family – whether that means attending CLC together or all of you attending elsewhere – I believe your family will be much better by worshiping together. (I hope you’ll read and consider the implication of each of these verses: John 17:21-22; Rom. 12:4-5; 1Cor. 10:17; Psa. 133:1)

Hope that helps! Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

We all need help with relationships…

As someone smarter than me has said, “We don’t have to make the Bible relevant, it already is.”

And after a sermon-planning session yesterday with our pastoral team, I’m more convinced than ever of just how relevant the Bible is, as we’re about to tackle what I believe will be one of our most helpful series ever!

‘That Guy!’ is our attempt to put a humorous spin on a very serious issue for so many of us in all kinds of relationships: parents, children, in-laws, spouses,  co-workers, even friends – all of whom can sometimes be hyper-critical, manipulative, or overly-needy.

We’ve not forgotten our ‘DEEPER’ theme for this year – but we’re applying it to more than  ‘spiritual’ topics – we’re digging deeper to help you navigate some of the issues in our relationships that we have been afraid or unable to tackle in the past!

So I’m encouraging you to INVITE your friends & family – EVERYONE needs help with relationships, and ‘That Guy!’ will offer it in lots of practical ways – starting THIS Sunday,  April 27 at Tinley Park, NWI and Blue Island campuses!

Offline for a week…

Today is our 41st wedding anniversary, so Chris & I are headed for some warmer weather.  We’re headed for Midway airport in a few minutes and we’ll board a cruise ship later this afternoon to spend the next four days sailing the Caribbean, with stops in Haiti and Jamaica.

I will NOT be posting or Facebooking or Tweeting (well, some of those were already scheduled, so you may read some of my devotional thoughts there if you follow me @jerrymcquay) this week, except for a previously scheduled ‘Ask the Pastor’ post on Friday – so check back then.

Instead, I’m going to enjoy the wife of my youth (Proverbs 5:18) and hopefully, some tropical heat!  (By the way, I promise to never title a series ‘White Christmas’ again, after dealing with the white stuff & the frigid temps for the last week!)

See you Sunday for “The Ghost of Christmas Past” as we close our White Christmas series with what many say is their biggest challenge: forgiving yourself!  

Hope you’ll invite a friend or relative – our KidsLife team will have a special presentation, too!  It’ll be a GREAT way to prepare for your family Christmas!

All in the Family…

Our terrific sermon team helped my wife & me put the finishing touches on this Sunday’s final installment of “Rules of Engagement”and I gotta tell you, I think it’s going to be the highlight of the entire series!

We’ve had a lot of fun talking to singles and to married couples the past couple of weeks, but we’ve got 5 ‘rules’ this weekend that I believe can make any family better: whether single-parent, nuclear, or blended-family.

There’s even principles that will work for teens and single adults, too – so make it a point to invite a friend or family member to join you this Sunday for “Family Ties”!  (we’ll also be celebrating ‘Missions Sunday’ and receiving Communion together on this first Sunday in November – plus we get an extra hour’s sleep Saturday!)

Don’t be late!

Keeping the honeymoon going…

That’s our topic as we move into Week 2 of our Rules of Relationship” series this Sunday.

With the help of our sermon-planning team, my wife & I are going to draw from our almost-41 years of marriage and give you the best ‘rules’ we’ve found, including some that we’ve never addressed before.

So if you are married, engaged, thinking about getting married or hope to someday be married, I hope you’ll be here this Sunday.  I especially hope you’ll be here Sunday if you’ve filed for divorce, are thinking about getting a divorce or wishing your spouse would file for divorce.  God’s Word has answers.  We want to share them with you.

One more thing: would you invite a friend to join you?

More on “Living Single”

Most every week we have more material than we can possibly fit into a Sunday sermon, and that was certainly true with the opening of our “Rules of Engagement” series.

But one of the resources we ran across was so good, I thought it was worth sharing with you here, even though we couldn’t include all of it’s excellent content yesterday.

If you are single, or if there’s a single adult in your family, I hope you’ll take time to read this article, “It Matters Whom You Marry”

Rules of Engagement

That’s the new series we begin at CLC this Sunday, October 20, and for the next 3 weeks we’ll look at relationship rules whether you are single, married, or part of a family.

So here’s my question this morning: what is one of your biggest struggles/questions when it comes to relationships?  My wife & I would love to keep this series as practical as possible, so if you’ll tell us where you’re struggling, we’ll try to address it during one of the Sunday messages.

Leave your comments/questions below, or if you prefer not to go public, shoot me an email here.

I can already tell you it’s going to be a FUN and HELPFUL series – and since everybody you know has some relationship issues, I hope you’ll invite a friend to join you!

Don’t miss the Message!

My wife is often the voice of the Holy Spirit to me, and last night was the latest example of that.  We were having one of those deep discussions that husbands and wives sometimes share, when she pointed out to me that sometimes we miss a message God has for us because we don’t like the messenger or the way he delivers the message to us.

The lady is profound.

I was still thinking about that this morning, so I looked up a verse that I’ve read many times before (but with fresh eyes today) 1 Thess. 2:13.

Do you see it?

When we receive the message as being from God and not from man, then-and-only-then it becomes God Himself at work in us!

want God to work in me.

I’m NOT gonna miss the message.

Ask the Pastor

This week’s question comes from a faithful CLC’er who writes, “I have been very hesitant to date a person who has been through a divorce, based on Luke 16:18 & Matthew 19:6. I’ve always believed that just because someone decides to end their marriage legally in the eyes of men doesn’t mean that the marriage is over in the eyes of God. Can two people who took vows to become one flesh become two separate people again? Would I become an adulterer if I marry someone who is divorced (Luke 16:18) or am I taking this all out of context? Can the marriage covenant (Malachi 2:14) really ever be broken?”

Finally.  The. thorniest. question. anyone. can. ask. me.

Seriously, questions about marriage & divorce, and this issue in particular, are most difficult for me, in part because so MANY people are affected.  The statement you referenced in Luke 16:18 seems so cut-and-dried, but here’s what I do know about interpreting Scripture: no verse of Scripture stands by itself.  In fact, the BEST way to interpret Scripture is to let the Bible interpret itself, by comparing all the passages on a particular topic, to get the whole message.

In this case, while Luke 16:18 sounds so adamant that divorce is never permitted, other verses do give us exceptions to that rule: Matthew 19:9; Matthew 5:32, 1Cor. 7:15 list some; namely, sexual sin and abandonment.  So, in my understanding of Scripture, if a spouse commits sexual sin or abandons their partner, a believer has a Biblical ‘right’ to divorce and remarry.

Now, let’s tackle your specific questions, in order:

  • yes, I believe 2 people who took vows to become one flesh can become 2 separate people again, either by means of death or sexual immorality or abandonment. See 1Cor. 7:15, 39 as well as Matthew 5:32, 19:9(By the way, I have heard some reason that even though the Bible says we are ‘loosed’ from our marriage by such actions, we do not have the right to remarry – but that makes no sense to me at all, given my understanding of the goodness of God.  Why would He ‘punish’ the innocent spouse by insisting they remain celibate & alone for the rest of their life when their marriage partner violated their vows?)
  • no, I do not believe you would be an adulteress if you married a divorced man, especially if he had a Biblical right to a divorce (meaning, his wife committed adultery or abandoned the marriage).  
  • The context of Luke 16:18 is interesting, in that Jesus had just talked to them about the importance of the Law, and then uses marriage as an example (verses 17-18).  From my study, it seems that some Pharisees taught that a man could divorce his wife for just any reason – Jewish history even gives the example of a man divorcing his wife because she burned his food!  Some men were using divorce as a license for their lust, putting away their first wife simply because they saw another woman they wanted, and thus by divorcing the first they thought they technically were not committing adultery.  So Jesus combated that popular idea by insisting it was not so.
  • Yes, the marriage covenant can definitely be broken, just like ANY covenant can be broken, if one of the partners chooses not to abide by the covenant agreement.

Having said all of this, let me close by reminding you of Colossians 3:15 & Romans 14:23.  I’ve given you what I believe the Bible teaches about this issue, but YOU must have peace and confidence that this is ok for you.  If you do not have peace in your mind & heart, no matter how logical or Biblically accurate my answer has been, then you should not act.

I hope this helps.  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

 

Ask the Pastor

Today’s question was submitted in December during our “You Asked For It!” midweek series, but we weren’t able to answer it publicly due to time constraints: “How do I maintain patience as a single mom in waiting for my husband?”

Very good question, since there are many like you facing that same challenge.  While the Bible doesn’t necessarily address that issue directly, it does give us principles:

  • Pray.  At the risk of oversimplification, I believe Scripture teaches that a good man’s (or woman’s) steps are ordered by the Lord.  Genesis 24 is a great example of how God can lead us to the right.
  • Prepare yourself.  Sometimes I think we spend so much time trying to find the right mate that we forget that we must also be the right mate.  Why would “Mr. Wonderful” want to find you, unless you have already done your part to develop yourself into an interesting person – a person who can engage in encouraging conversation; a person of strong faith; a person who would be an asset to any man as his help-mate.  Use this time while you are waiting as a single mom to develop yourself into the ideal wife for some man who will know that he has found a ‘good thing’ because of the favor of the Lord (Prov. 18:22)
  • Take advantage of opportunities you have now.  1Cor. 7:32-35 points out that this season of your life presents you with an opportunity to serve the Lord without distraction, whereas if you were married, you would have to divide your time & attention with your husband.  Not only is this season a great opportunity for you spiritually – to grow close to God, to be involved in ministries, to take missions trips, etc. – but it’s also an opportunity for you to pursue other interests that you likely won’t have time for later, with a husband.  Go back to school to take some courses you’re interested in.  Build some close friendships with other women your age, or even older women who could offer you mentoring and encouragement.  Don’t just sit and wait for Mr. Wonderful to appear!

I know this is a more complicated subject with few easy answers, but I hope this has helped a bit.

Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Turn Your Marriage Around in 10 Days

I posted about this amazing book here last week.  I still urge you to get your own copy, which you can do here.

But, as promised, I’d like to announce the winners of an electronic copy of the book:

1.  Ellis McCarthy

2. Pastor Dan Jackson

3.  Adrian Battle

Congrats, men!  (I’m quite impressed that it was MEN who wrote in requesting a copy of the book – that’s taking leadership instead of passively waiting for the wife to seek to improve the marriage!)

Enjoy!

The book I wish I had written

I met Pastor Philip Wagner several years ago when he came to Chicago for a pastor’s conference I was attending, and just this week I was introduced to his newest book,  “How to Turn Your Marriage Around in 10 Days”

After reading through it, I just have one thing to say:

OMG!

This is the book I wish I had written!  It’s that good.  It’s that helpful.  It’s that practical.

Chris & I will have been married 40 years this December.  We just taught the most popular sermon series of our ministry last month by sharing what we’re learned in 40 years together about “Love, Sex & Marriage”.  We saw God use that teaching to literally save marriages from divorce.  Honestly, I think we’ve learned a little about marriage in 40 years.

But Philip has written in such easy-to-understand terms with such insight that I honestly believe the title of his book is NOT just an advertising agency’s come-on or just more marketing propaganda – read my lips: I believe if you’ll read his book and apply it, you can really turn your marriage around in 10 days!

You can order your copy online now.

And just for the fun of it (and Pastor Philip’s generosity), I’m offering a free digital copy of his book to one couple who will let me know WHY you want a copy in your comments below (or if you prefer to keep it private, by emailing me here).  I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday, November 7.

Vacation of a lifetime…

…and even that’s an understatement!

Chris & I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary for the last 2 weeks with a Mediterranean Cruise that took us to 10 cities in 4 countries over 12 days (with 2 days in Rome at the end) – and I literally don’t have words to describe how wonderful it was!

The favor we enjoyed on the entire trip was amazing, starting with the fact that the cruise line offered a “2 for 1” sale just one weekend this year & we ‘happened’ to book our trip that weekend, instead of waiting until 2013 as we had originally planned, so we literally paid half the normal price.  Then we were able to use credit card points & miles so that the cruise & the flights literally cost us nothing!

We oohed and ahhed our way thru Venice, Dubrovnik , Athens, and the Greek Isles, with each day’s highlights seemingly better than the day before.  But honestly, the best part of the entire trip was having this extended time together, just the two of us, to reconnect and celebrate our love for each other.  Our marriage is better after this trip!

The final two days in Rome was just one serendipitous moment after another, as we made memories in the Eternal City that we’ll never forget.

I may post more pics later, but here’s a couple from my phone from the beginning & end of the trip:

A gondola ride in Venice on the first day!

The Roman Coliseum is nothing short of amazing

CELEBRATING 40 years!

I’m writing this post from the United lounge at O’Hare….as Chris & I are headed to Europe tonight for a 12-day Mediterranean Cruise.  It’s a long story, but this has been on our ‘bucket list’ for several years, and we decided over a year ago that our 40th would be the time to do it.

Of course, taking a cruise in December (our actual anniversary is the 16th) wouldn’t be much fun, so we had decided we’d go next Spring or Summer.  But then a few months ago we received an offer from the cruise line we’d chosen, offering the same cruise we were planning to take next year for half-price!

In addition to that blessing, we have saved our miles & credit card points for a few years, so we were actually able to book the flights AND the entire cruise at no cost(We’ll be paying for the excursions to some of the sights along the way, but otherwise this trip was a blessing from the Lord!)

I’ll admit it’s a little tough for me to leave during such an exciting season of ministry at CLC, but I have every confidence in the wonderful team of pastors & leaders at CLC that you guys won’t miss a beat while we’re gone.  It’s even more difficult for Chris to leave during the health crisis with her father, but since we don’t even have a date for his open- heart surgery yet (to replace a defective valve), her family insisted that we go.

So say a quick prayer for us to truly be able to disconnect, enjoy the sights and celebrate each other for the next couple of weeks.  I just realized that I forgot to pack our camera, so I’m not sure how much we’ll post (if I can keep Chris’ hands off of me long enough to get to a computer, that is) or whether we’ll have any pics, so no promises – except that we’ll be back refreshed & recharged, ready to kick off our new series for November!

Oh, one more thing – we love you!  What a privilege to pastor this church!!!

A couple of praise reports & a seed for your miracle…

I posted here and here about the sense I had during our last series as to how God was going to “save some marriages from divorce”.

This afternoon I received an email from a faithful CLCer whose wife had already moved out of their home and taken the children with her.  They had recently signed the final divorce papers and were focused on ‘moving on with their lives’, until that sermon series at CLC.

According to his email, he & his wife we met for 3 hours this past Saturday, went over each other’s lists (as my wife had suggested in the series), and made the decision that they are going to work out our marriage. He said, “because of your series, Pastor, we both have learned how to forgive, and [we’re] working on practicing that forgiveness.”

He went on to say, “Pastor, I can’t even put into words on how much calmer I feel, knowing that God is going to not only repair our marriage, but make it stronger than before. Although we are both scared of the unknown, we both have incredible faith that God is going to remove the hurt from our hearts, and cover it with the blood.”

I wept as I read his email today – SO thankful for the miracle-working God that we serve.  But I knew immediately that I should pass this report on to you, as a ‘seed’ for your own faith, because God is no respecter of persons, and what He’s doing for them, He can also do for you!

Whether you need a miracle in your marriage, in your body, your finances, or whatever, please know that He loves you unconditionally, and that it is your Father’s “good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32)

Can’t wait to see what He’s going to do next!

Well, that didn’t take long: before I could click ‘post’, I received a phone call from a former member of CLC who moved away about 10-12 years ago.  She just wanted to give me an update on some ‘fruit’ I didn’t even know about.  It seems that a young man (a friend of her family) visited CLC probably 15-16 years ago, possibly only attending a couple of times and quite possibly intoxicated when he came.  She said he received Jesus on one of those visits here and then later went back to the church where he had been raised.

Now get this: since getting saved here at CLC, he has become a minister of the Gospel, and has been serving as a missionary in Mexico for the past 12 years, during which time his ministry has planted 41 churches!

God is amazing!

Fall Fest!

Kudos, KUDOS, KUDOS to EVERY CLCer who worked so hard today to make this year’s Fall Fest a smashing success!

I honestly don’t know all the names, so I shouldn’t even start – but I’m sure Pastors Tony & Angie Gilmore & their entire team at Family Ministries deserve much of the credit for the planning & execution of this great community outreach.

From what I saw parents & children alike were having a great time at the huge variety of games & activities.  Probably the only ones who weren’t happy were the pastors in the dunk tank, but after much prayer & supplication, I think we’ve all forgiven our oppressors.

The unselfishness of CLCers to come together in unity to pull off an event like this is one of the things I love about this church, and I can’t wait for tomorrow’s finale to what we’ve learned in 40 years together about “Love, Sex & Marriage” – I promise we’ve saved the best for last!

And tomorrow evening’s Live Worship Recording is bound to be one of the highlight’s of the year, so get some rest tonight and let’s have a phenomenal day tomorrow!

Weekend reflections

Honestly, if it gets any better, I don’t know how I’ll handle it (but I’m a quick learner) – random thoughts from this weekend at CLC:

  • the 2012 Men’s Retreat had to be our BEST yet….start to finish: Pastor Tony’s opening night challenge, Pastor Ben’s message from the heart, the WISDOM of our Man Talk, the transparency & encouragement around the pre-dawn bonfire, not to mention the mealtime conversations, recreation & fellowship – all I’ve got to say is “guys, if you missed it, you really missed it!”  Get ready for 2013!  Kudos to Ellis McCarthy & the entire team of guys who helped put it all together!

then TODAY….where do I start?  Had to be one of the most amazing ‘regular’ (non-holiday or special event days) in the history of CLC:

  • almost 1,600 in attendance, with 2 water baptisms, 24 in Step One (membership class) and others in Step Three (spiritual gifts class), and at least 8 precious people who prayed to receive Christ!
  • LOVED the fun, ‘island song’ written by our own Pastor Jon Jones & SOP!
  • met a TON of first-time guests today, and better-yet, a whole bunch of recent guests who keep coming back for more!
  • One of those first-time guests was a faithful radio listener who brought her husband (even though he usually doesn’t attend church with her) and she told me she knew ‘it was meant’ for them to be here for the message, and that her husband wept as he recited the vows to her at the close of service!
  • Another CLCer told me that her brother-and-sister-in-law who were in the process of getting a divorce were present today and that she saw them renewing their vows with us after the message!
  • Others told me thru tears that they were going home to reconcile with their estranged spouses!  I truly believe that GOD saved some marriages from divorce at CLC today!
  • Pastor Doug reported a great, FUN day at the South Bend campus, saying the worship was fun & energetic (kudos to Terrell Wilson), that it was great to team-teach with his wife & that a surprising number of folks responded to the altar invitation!
  • Pastor Herley Montes reported 31 new people came to Christ and about 50 came forward to receive healing in their services at our Davao City, Philippines campus today, as the power of God came following his teaching on faith!

And top all that off with a convincing old-fashioned (translation: defense dominated) Bears win against the Rams (sorry, Pastor Tony…. well, not really) – it’s been a GREAT weekend!

I’d love to hear what else God did today – do you have a story to add?  Please let us know so we can rejoice together-

 

Saved from divorce!

As Chris & I were preparing the message we’ll bring this Sunday in our series: what we’ve learned in our 40 years together about “Love, Sex & Marriage”, I really felt impressed that the Lord would use the teaching this Sunday to save some marriages from divorce!

That ‘sense’ was with me last weekend in Russia when we delivered the teaching there and were able to pray with couples in each service who admitted that their marriage was in trouble, and it only heightened tonight when I heard from a CLCer whose wife had already signed the divorce papers, but he told me he was holding off in filing them specifically because of this series!

I’m urging every CLCer reading this to invite anyone you know whose marriage is troubled – do everything you can to get them to CLC this Sunday, and let’s believe God together to do what only HE can do!

a FIRST for me!

I was so tired last night when posting that I forgot my coolest news: I performed a Russian wedding yesterday!

Here in Russia, only the government is allowed to do official weddings, usually on Friday or Saturday – but the church still does a ceremony for the benefit of family & friends, much like a traditional wedding in America.  This is always done on Sunday at the close of one of the services.

So yesterday during lunch (between the first 2 services), one of the pastors asked if I’d like to officiate a wedding.  I hesitated, since I know nothing about how to do a wedding in Russia and I’d already learned that they do NOT do wedding vows as we do in the West.  The pastors assured me it would be find, however I did it.  I hesitated some more, thinking the bride & groom should have a say in who performed their wedding.  The pastors assured me that the couple would be honored to have an American pastor officiate.

So, at the close of the second service, after preaching and the altar invitation in which 7 precious folks came forward to give their lives to Christ, we had everyone sit down & I called for the couple to come forward.  They entered from the balcony, marched down the long center aisle and joined me on stage.  I gave a short message about marriage before yielding to the microphone to them, as one distinctive here is that the groom prays for his bride, and then the bride prays for the groom, prior to the pastor praying for their marriage. Then I helped them with the ring exchange and pronounced them man & wife.

Here are the pics to prove it:

Giving the wedding message to the happy couple

the groom praying for his bride

these ladies do ALL the talking for us in Russia - our wonderful interpreters, Anna on the left & Ksenia on the right - they are our constant companions!

Let it go!

I was minding my own business last Sunday night, on my way to the register at our neighborhood gas station to pay for my Subway sandwiches (the exotic life of a pastor being what it is) when I couldn’t help overhearing an angry customer giving the teen cashier a tongue-lashing.  When she apologized but explained that she couldn’t help the situation, he insisted on knowing the name of the owner of the establishment & a phone number.  When she couldn’t provide that (she didn’t know the owner’s name, which is probably not so unusual for a part-time teen employee), he demanded to know the name of the company she worked for and their phone number.

Finally, after he stomped out of the store, my curiosity got the best of me and since I knew the girl from her previous attendance at CLC, I asked her why he was so upset.  It seems he had paid for a $5 car wash, and was angered that it did not include drying his car.  He insisted that it was “false advertising” for the gas station to offer a car wash without advising all it’s customers that it would not include drying the car after the wash.

For 5 bucks!

Made me think about all the times in my life I’ve gotten similarly bent-out-of-shape, raised my blood pressure, lost my joy (and my peace) and gave someone else a hard time, all over something as measly as $5.

In fact, it made me think of marriages that have been lost and divorces that have resulted because one of the partners couldn’t (well, chose not to) overlook a silly $5 issue and learn to fight for their marriage instead of fighting in their marriage, by practicing forgiveness with their spouse regularly.

That’s just ONE of the nine or so principles that we want to share this Sunday at CLC in part 2 of our new series, what we’ve learned in our 40 years together about “Love, Sex & Marriage”.  I really hope you’ll invite a friend & plan to join us – I think you’ll find some principles worth a lot more than $5!

Don’t miss THIS Sunday!

I know we’ve had several exciting events back-to-back-to-back with Friend Day followed by Michael Jr followed by Daniel Kolenda, but I honestly think THIS Sunday is gonna be just as life-changing at CLC!

First of all, we’re making room for some live testimonies from those who accepted Daniel Kolenda’s challenge (see this post for more info) and saw God show up this week.

We’ve also got a surprise sermon opener that you’ll be talking about for weeks – but that’s all I’m saying, ’cause you gotta experience it for yourself!

Then my wife & I will begin the series we’ve been preparing since 1972 – it’s what we’ve learned in our 40 years together about “Love, Sex & Marriage”, and we’ll kick it off this week with “How to Find Your True Love”, so invite your single friends and join us!

I love what God is doing among us right now & I can’t wait for THIS Sunday!

On this date…

On a snowy December 16, 1972, a little teen blonde just 6 months after her graduation from high school joined me (just 2 days removed from my teen years) in standing before our pastor and a small church crowded with family and friends to pledge our love and our lives to one another.  In the 39 years that have followed, we’ve seen everything that we vowed that night: both better and worse, both richer and poorer, both sickness and health.  We’ve experienced incredible moments of joy and we’ve had to work our way through some awful times of sorrow.  But through it all, the one constant is that she has always been by my side.

I’ve watched her grow and develop from that shy teenager into an incredible woman of God.  I’ve marveled at how she has stretched herself and found her own calling and purpose that has enabled her to minister to others in several different congregations that we’ve been privileged to serve.  She’s endured the rigors of travel and the challenge of cross-cultural ministry in over 20 different nations, and I’m a witness as to how she is loved by women from all those nations and cultures as a result.

The greatest moments in my life are making her laugh, and the hardest times for me are seeing her cry (especially when I’m the cause).  She’s a great mom to my three children and the wonderful ‘Guys’ (his term for her) to our grandson, Jaeden.

I’m looking forward to growing old with her, because she’s still the woman of my dreams.  Happy 39th Anniversary, Chris – I love you today, and I always will.

Off to Kona

It’s that time of year again…..

No, not Christmas….the McQuay anniversary getaway!

Most years we try to get to someplace warm to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and this time we had an opportunity for free tickets to Hawaii if we were willing to travel a week early, so we’re celebrating #39 a week in advance.  We’ll catch a flight (well, 3 in all – that’s one of the problems of award tickets – you have to take what’s open) this morning that will eventually get us to Kona on the big island of Hawaii, for a week of sun and r-e-l-a-x-a-t-i-o-n.  (That’s my way of saying we’re not planning any vacation activities, unless laying out on a beach with a mystery novel counts)

I hate that we’ll be missing “A Baby Changes Everything”, but we had locked-in these free seats before the dates were set for the Christmas musical.  I know that Jon and the entire team here will knock it out of the park, and your whole family will enjoy the production, even without us being here – it’s our loss, not yours!

See you next week!

Going in different directions (again)

One week ago I told you in this post that my wife & I were both headed out of town in different directions.  Today, I’m saying it again, except this time she’s scheduled to arrive back at O’Hare this afternoon from her trip to South Africa, while I’m leaving this morning for the Gulf Coast.

I miss her terribly when she’s not around (it’s not good for man to be alone!) and I especially hate it that I won’t even be here to greet her after an 8-day missions trip.  I don’t think this has ever happened to us before, but it couldn’t be helped this time.

I’m meeting several other veteran (is that a euphemism for ‘old’?) pastors from the Association of Related Churches as we launch a new effort to help coach & mentor the young couples who are planting churches with ARC (in just 10 years, ARC has planted about 200 churches in 36 states!). At this stage of life, my heart is totally into helping younger men find success in ministry, so this feels like a great fit, and I’m excited about getting connected with the other ARC vets tonight and tomorrow morning.

But I must admit I’m already looking forward to my return tomorrow evening to kiss my wife!

Ask the Pastor

One of my favorite new CLCers writes, “Pastor, I thank you for all your teachings and helping me continue to listen and obey God’s word and when HE speaks to me. I believe that when God speaks to me or puts something in my heart to do, that I should listen and act upon his directions. I do what He tells me to do, like I would obey my earthly father.

I do what I am told without questioning or complaining. I make a lot of impulsive decisions without thinking in my personal life, but I have been learning that it can affect me or cause regrets later. But when I’m asked to do something for God, I don’t think it through I just do it. The question I have is that I’m not married but I am dating. My lady is Christian and very faithful to the Lord. She feels that when God puts something in my heart to do and I don’t consult with her first – I just make a decision without her and she feels upset because I act on these decisions without talking to her. To be honest, pastor, whether I am married or single. I will still do what God puts in my heart to do without hesitation because He comes first. Now I can understand if I’m making personal decisions in life and not consulting her that would be wrong. But I would expected my wife to make decisions without me if God puts something in her heart to do, even if it is financial. I just want to know if I’m making impulsive decisions when it comes to God and if my impulsive decision are a good thing or is it a bad thing if I don’t discuss these decisions to my other half.”

Wow…..that’s such a GREAT question for all married couples…..so I’d say you and your lady are getting a great head-start toward communicating and working on issues before they become divisive to your relationship.  Let me try to help:

1.  First, I definitely think that in marriage all major decisions should be discussed together and made together – after all, in marriage you are no longer two, but ONE.  I wouldn’t even think of making a significant purchase or investment of finances, for instance, without discussing it with Chris beforehand.  We’ve both followed that policy from day one of our marriage, and it’s saved us from the money disputes that so many married couples seem to struggle with.

2.  That policy of discussing things together doesn’t just apply to money or financial decisions – I think it applies to any action or decision that will have an affect on both parties.  In case you’re wondering what is considered “major” or when is it necessary to collaborate before making a decision – I’d say that’s something you two must work out.  If you think anything over $20 is major and she doesn’t, you’ll have to work out some type of compromise, keeping in mind the most important thing is the relationship (as we taught at CLC on May 22)

3.  What I said above is true, regardless of whether you feel God is speaking to you or not.  I would base my statements on verses such as 1Peter 3:7.  But in your specific question about those times that you feel God spoke to your heart about a particular action or decision, here is my counsel:

  • first of all, God is not the author of confusion (ICor 14:33).  It doesn’t make sense that He would lead you to do something as a husband and lead your wife in another direction.
  • So, if you are not in agreement about what you feel God is speaking to your heart, there are 3 possibilities: (1) you didn’t really hear from God – perhaps it was something that you want personally so much you convinced yourself that God spoke to you, or perhaps it was just that you were mistaken; OR (2) your wife hasn’t heard from God, which is why she’s in opposition; OR (3) the timing is off.
  • In my experience, most of the time, it’s a matter of (3) TIMING!  In other words, maybe you heard from God about doing something, and you’re ready to roll (after all, you heard from GOD!).  But your wife didn’t have that same experience, so she’s doubtful, or even opposed.  In many cases, it’s simply that you are rushing the situation, and if you’ll be patient and quietly pray for God to speak to BOTH your hearts when the time is right, eventually it will happen and you’ll probably even see why the timing is so much better later than it would have been before, had you forced it.
  • There are those times that option (2) applies – that is, your spouse is just not in agreement.  In that case, I would sincerely encourage you to pray for her – not selfishly, “God, make them see it my way” kind of prayer, but a genuine prayer that God would speak to both your hearts and help you to know what to do.  After all, in a case like you’ve described where both of you are believers, she’s not just your wife, she’s God’s daughter, too.  And our Father is well able to speak to His children and change their hearts.  We can’t do that.  We’re not God.  But Proverbs 21:1 is not only true of kings; it’s true of companions as well!

4.  There is one other possibility in your question: what if the thing that God is speaking to your heart is not subjective, but a plain instruction in the Bible? For instance, I’ve had couples ask me about issues like tithing, which I don’t see as arbitrary or subjective in Scripture, but a clear instruction for us as believers – and in some cases, one spouse agreed and wanted to tithe, but the other spouse (who possibly wasn’t even a believer) didn’t agree with them giving 10% to the Lord.  In those cases, my counsel is Acts 5:29 – so if the believing spouse wants to tithe on the entire household income, they should ask permission of the unbelieving spouse, but if it’s a question of tithing their own income to the Lord, I don’t feel they need permission – they need Acts 5:29!  I said all of that to say that IF the decisions you are acting upon “impulsively” are based clearly on Scripture (I’m not talking about some strange interpretation of the Bible, but on clear commands of the Word), then I’d say it is right for you to act upon them whether anyone else agrees or not.  But even then, in Christian love, it wouldn’t hurt you to explain to your lady why you’re doing what you’re doing – so she feels included.  That’s 1Pet. 3:7 again.

Finally, I’d say that while you are not yet married, you certainly aren’t ‘obligated’ to these practices that I’ve recommend for married couples, but I think using this dating time to truly get to understand each other better and come to some agreement on such matters is priceless.

Boy, this may have opened up a whole can of worms for other couples, but I hope it helped some.  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

(The Real) Modern Family

Watched the BULLS finish off the Pacers last night (DRose is a beast, and everbody helped, too) – but as exciting as that was, I think I’m even more excited about this next sermon series!

After spending the first 4 months of this year with GROW and iKnow, we’re going to concentrate on the FAMILY for the entire month of May.  What I’m especially excited about is that the modern family isn’t “one size fits all” – I mean, there’s nuclear families, blended families, single-parent families, never-marrieds, divorced, widowed, married without kids – and ALL of us are facing challenges like never before.  The family is under attack in 2011!

But get this: God’s Word still has the answers.

So we’re going to dive in deep these next 5 Sundays, with practical applications for each family – regardless of your status.  I mean it: this is NOT going to be a marriage series….or a parenting series…..we’re working hard to make sure we bring out God’s Word for each person, regardless of marital status or situation.

MOST-IMPORTANT: every family in America needs help. This will be the most guest-friendly series ever, so I’m pleading with you to INVITE, INVITE, INVITE!  Your friends and co-workers will appreciate these teachings.

If you had a guest here last weekend for Easter, please talk to them & invite them to return!

If you invited someone for Easter who didn’t show, get in touch this week & invite them again!

Grab some more of those invite cards, make some phone calls, send an email blast to your friends – whatever it takes, let’s help some families & see what God will do in the month of May!